A Rough Outline

As a kid, I despised English class. I loathed the idea of being force fed “The Catcher in the Rye” because some school administrator felt it was important for me to do so. Then came my favorite part where I regurgitated the plot in an essay.

eye roll

I honestly found language arts difficult. Although my cognitive flexibility improved with age, I was more of a concrete, sequential thinker as a kid. I liked structure and step-by-step problem solving. Hence why I leaned more in favor of math and science.

(I <3 the scientific method.)

However, one concept from language arts stuck with me well into adulthood. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing process. It brought structure to abstract thinking. On the flip side, it provided adaptability to rigid thinking.

If you are unfamiliar with the writing process or just flat out sucked at writing, let me give you a quick breakdown. Usually, a writer starts off with an outline of their ideas. It included an introduction, body, and conclusion. In laymen’s terms, the author wrote how it all started followed up by supporting details leading up to the summing up/final resolution. This outline alone gives organization to sporadic thoughts and direction towards an ultimate goal.

Then came the rough draft. The writer takes their bullet points from the outline and now puts them into sentence form. In the rough draft, the writer gets their thoughts onto paper, flushes out their ideas, and organizes them. This draft is far from its final form though. It must undergo several revisions. I hated this past in high school. Usually, my teachers made us write rough drafts just for them to send it back in a bloodbath of red ink. When they handed the paper back, it looked like a murder scene.

Later on, I understood the importance of the editing process. If a writer wants to put out his best work, improvements must be made. Rough drafts are seldom a writer’s best work. Sometimes they take a break and come back to it. They realize something needs to be added here or there. That part they wrote last night actually makes no sense in the context of the paper. Maybe even having a friend look at it shows a gap in the writer’s reasoning.

A few years ago, I adapted this mentality to life. I see it as a rough draft. Parts of my paper have already been written and will, of course, direct the writing process moving forward. I have a lot of editing ahead. Moving forward, particular details will require revision. Things will be added and taken away. They will be reorganized. The order will likely be altered. There will be plenty of helping hands including peers and teachers that will assist in the editing process.

Each revision will bring a clearer understanding. It will bring me closer to the conclusion I want to paint for my readers. As of right now though, I am far from my final draft.

-The Caring Counselor

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